Many of you will no doubt be considering a break over the half term holidays and the Government has now announced plans to further simplify the international travel system in England.
The traffic light system has been replaced with a single red list and simplified travel measures for eligible arrivals from the rest of the world based on passengers’ vaccination status. The requirement for eligible fully vaccinated passengers to take a pre-departure test has also been removed, providing that they are arriving into England from a non-red list country or territory and haven’t been to a red list country or territory in the last ten days. The Devolved Administrations have also aligned on this policy.
From the end of October, eligible fully vaccinated passengers will be able to replace their day 2 PCR test with a cheaper lateral flow test, reducing the cost of tests on arrival into England. We want to have this in place for when people return from October half-term breaks and the date will be confirmed shortly. Anyone testing positive will need to isolate and take a confirmatory PCR test, at no additional cost, which can be genomically sequenced to help identify new variants.
Passengers taking postal tests will be able to send a picture of their lateral flow test as a minimum requirement to verify the test result. Other options such as in person or video supervised testing will remain available for those that prefer that. The Government will continue to maintain surveillance at the border through testing and genomic sequencing, so that it can respond rapidly if risks from any country increase.
Non-vaccinated passengers arriving into England are allowed to present proof of a negative pre-departure test via the EU Digital Covid Certificate, in either paper or digital formats.
The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) has also lifted its advice against all but essential travel for over 30 countries and territories. The change means people will be able to travel to a larger number of destinations with greater ease.
The FCDO will no longer advise against travel to non-red list countries on COVID-19 grounds, except in exceptional circumstances such as if the local healthcare system is overwhelmed. Many travel insurance companies use FCDO travel advice as a reference point in their policies – typically excluding cover for places where government advises against essential travel, however people will now be able to purchase travel insurance for a wider range of destinations across the globe.
The FCDO will continue to advise against all but essential travel for all red list countries and territories, where the risk to British travellers is “unacceptably high”. Whilst public health is a devolved matter, the Government works closely with the devolved administrations on any changes to international travel and aims to ensure a whole UK approach.
Hopefully these changes will help to simplify travel, as well as reducing the overall cost burden.